How I Would Book… The Rock vs Dean Ambrose

The Rock has encountered some strange characters over the years in WWE. From throwing Shawn Stasiak over the top rope over and over again to losing to the Hurricane on Raw, a lot has happened in the career of the Great One. Wacky and unique characters bring out the best out of The Rock, so how about a lunatic fringe for a future program for the Brahma Bull? How about The Rock… vs Dean Ambrose?

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This is actually a very unique clash of styles. We’ve got the big hollywood movie star with an incredible physique against a lunatic with a hardcore mindset. There’s quite a difference in the two styles, although you could argue that Dean Ambrose would be very similar to Rock’s former tag team partner Mick Foley. However, Dean is much leaner than Mick but not as well built as The Rock.

In past How I Would Books, I’ve usually put Rock up against big men like John Cena and Roman Reigns. Dean Ambrose is not like them. Much like The Rock however, he is charismatic and talented in the ring. If The Rock wanted to throw down verbally and physically, Dean would be more than up for the challenge.

How to get to Dean Ambrose vs The Rock from this point on is very tricky. How do you give The Rock or Dean a reason to want to beat the tar out of each other? Do you have The Rock challenge for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship that Dean currently holds as of August 2016? Do you have Dean call out The Rock, feeling the need to face a megastar of the past to see if he’s as good as he thinks he is? No. What’s the one factor that could draw both these two into battle? Family.

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The one person that connects both Dean Ambrose and The Rock is Roman Reigns. Roman Reigns is related by blood to The Rock, with the People’s Champion saving the Big Dog on WWE television before. However, according to the storyline, Dean is probably closer to Roman than anyone else on the roster. They both refer to each other as brothers. It’s the connection between both men which could draw these two charismatic superstars together.

The bigger issue at the moment, when it comes to these two and Roman Reigns, is the WWE Draft. Roman Reigns is on RAW, Dean Ambrose is on SmackDown! and The Rock is currently undrafted. How are we going to develop a storyline involving all three men, while trying to preserve the idea of separate brands? I always preferred the idea of keeping RAW and SmackDown! as distant as possible. Therefore, with this in mind, let’s see if we can write a storyline without breaking those barriers TOO MUCH.

With that being said, we need to plant the seeds for a confrontation between Dean and Rock with Roman. Where’s the best place to start? The one pay-per-view coming up that will see the integration of the rosters… Survivor Series 2016.

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The whole idea behind this pay-per-view is to allow these rosters to interact after months away from each other. The whole idea behind the brand split is for these brands to compete with one another. My idea is after several months of taking shots at each other and the rise in competition, Stephanie and Foley would flat out call out Shane and Bryan for a inter-promotional five-on-five elimination match for Survivor Series. Team RAW would be consisted of Roman Reigns, Rusev, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Team SmackDown! would be consisted of Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Randy Orton, Chad Gable and Jason Jordan. These teams are interchangeable so it’s up to you who you want in the match. The two essentials for this storyline though are Dean and Roman.

Due to the competitive nature of the brand split, it would be difficult for the commissioners and general managers to agree on a referee to call it down the middle. Remember what happened when RAW and SmackDown! feuded in 2005. In a couple of matches (notably at Taboo Tuesday and Survivor Series), the RAW and SmackDown! referees would officiate the same match and prevent each other from making decisions. If WWE want to acknowledge the previous brand split, then this could make way for a special referee that would supposedly be impartial. Enter The Rock.

While I’m currently unaware of what The Rock’s filming schedule will be like in November, surely it’s possible for The Rock to appear as a referee. Not to mention that his inclusion will give the WWE the mainstream boost they need for one of the biggest pay-per-views involving both brands.

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The match comes down to Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins for RAW and Dean Ambrose for SmackDown!. Seth and Dean are the legal men. Roman accidentally clocks Seth with a spear when going for Dean. Dean hits Dirty Deeds on Roman as Seth comes to. Seth gets frustrated at his point, grabbing a chair. Seth goes to hit Roman but Rock stops him. He pushes Seth into Dean, who hits Dirty Deeds and eliminates him. Dean and Roman battle until Dean hits Dirty Deeds once again. As this happens, Seth gets to his feet on the outside and re-arms himself with the chair. The Rock sees this and goes after Seth, with Dean waiting in the ring for Rock to count Roman down. Rock eventually makes his way back into the ring but Roman kicks out at the last minute. Believing that Rock screwed him, Dean gets in his face. Rock hits a Rock Bottom on Dean, with Roman still out and oblivious to this. Roman gets to his feet, hits one more spear on Dean and pins him. Team RAW wins.

Now the seeds are starting to be planted. Rock screwed Dean but Dean can’t do anything about it… at least contractually. The Rock does make one more appearance on the night after Survivor Series, congratulating Roman and giving him his endorsement. This obviously gets boos as the fans didn’t like Roman and Rock screwing Dean. The Rock and Roman are cut off by Byron Saxton, who is told to go backstage as there are reports of wrestlers being taken out. He goes to the back but is launched right back onto the entrance ramp. Dean comes out and stares right at Rock. Dean comes down to the ring but Roman steps in between his “brother” and his blood. Roman tries to push Dean away but Dean retaliates with Dirty Deeds. Dean and Rock come to blows, drawing the attention of the security. Stephanie and Foley can’t afford for one of SmackDown!’s stars to cause havoc on RAW. Dean and Rock are pulled apart by security but Dean gets out. As he’s about to charge The Rock, Roman spears Dean out of his boots. This isn’t exactly a heel turn, but this does get negative reactions from the crowd.

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On SmackDown!, Dean makes weekly challenges to The Rock to fight him on Dean’s home turf in the blue brand. He says that he’ll forgive Roman for the spear from RAW, provided that he gets to fight Rock. Nothing happens up until the week before SmackDown!’s PPV in December. Let’s just say for now that this pay-per-view is TLC. Dean gets no word but Foley confronts him. Foley tells Dean that The Rock is a lot more dangerous than he lets on. He tells him to drop it but Dean is unwilling to listen. Dean tells Foley that HE has no idea how dangerous DEAN is, claiming to be just as extreme as any of your “ECW boys” from back in the day. Mick tells Dean to prove it and makes a challenge. While Foley can’t force The Rock to come out of hiding, he can organise a match with Dean and Roman for Royal Rumble. He will only do this if Dean defeats a free agent that is willing to make a one-off appearance in a tables match on SmackDown!’s pay-per-view. Dean agrees when the lights go out. The lights come back on and it’s Rob Van Dam. He takes out Dean with a chair and hits the frog splash. It’s ON now.

The reason I went with the lights out for RVD’s appearance is that it’s a callback to Jerry Lawler’s invasion of ECW at Wrestleaplooza 1997, when the lights went out and Jerry appeared with an alliance INVOLVING Rob Van Dam of all people. RVD might seem a random choice for an opponent for Dean, but he works with the hardcore style of the lunatic fringe. Dean wins the match, allowing him to fight Roman at the next inter-promotional pay-per-view in the Royal Rumble.

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What’s in it for Roman Reigns to  wrestle this match? How can Foley bargain with Roman? Simple. The promise of a Universal Championship match at FAST LANE if he wins. Him winning the title at Fast Lane means that Roman can main-event WrestleMania for a third year in a row… assuming a RAW wrestler wins the Royal Rumble that is. Dean is hungry for revenge but Roman is not exactly blood-thirsty himself. He only speared Dean on RAW as Dean attacked him first. He’s interested in winning the title and that’s that. Dean and Roman have choice words, with Roman having very LIMITED choice words. Dean’s deal is telling Roman that he should want to stop living in the Rock’s show. Rock bailed him out at Survivor Series, but he won’t be able to do it at Royal Rumble. Roman simply states that Dean is in his way for a title shot and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to beat his brother and main event WrestleMania again, something Dean’s never done.

At the Royal Rumble, it’s a close encounter. As Dean has Roman beat with Dirty Deeds, the lights go out. Trust me, there’s a purpose behind this one too! The lights come back on and there’s a jacked man in all-black, wearing a black mask. He lights up Dean with a huge clothesline. He takes the mask off and reveals himself to be… The Rock. He hits Dean with a Rock Bottom and People’s Elbow. Roman comes to and hits a spear to beat Dean again. The Rock officially accepts Dean Ambrose’s challenge and tells him to meet him at WrestleMania.

The finish can be what you desire, although a victory for Dean over The Rock would definitely get him super stardom.

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Roman could have some confrontation with The Rock, getting involved in his matches twice now but ultimately, there’s some sort of idea about how The Rock and Dean could come together. This was a very difficult one to write and maybe it seems like a simple storyline. However, on Rock’s side, not a lot is needed and not a lot can be done. His scheduling does provide issues but Dean can surely help spice things up on television for SmackDown! every week.

Have any suggestions for a How I Would Book? Simply tweet me at either @ArmbarExpress or @TomRobinson5199 on Twitter with your suggestions. Do also check out the rest of the content on my blog. I do a lot of other cool fantasy booking blog posts with my playthroughs of fantasy booking game Extreme Warfare Revenge. And there’s all sorts of other wrestling content as well. You never know, you might just like what you see!

 

 

How I Would Book… WrestleMania 32

WrestleMania is the most important wrestling event of the year and this year is no exception. At a place like Dallas, the pressure is on for WWE to perform. With the WWE talent pool reduced significantly due to injuries and other circumstances, WWE have been pushed into a corner with this year’s event. A lot of people have actually given WWE a lot of credit with how they’ve handled it. I’m actually one of those people. However, things can always get better in WWE and here’s my thoughts on how WWE Should Book… WrestleMania 32.

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Let me just state that what we are doing is putting together our own “fantasy card” without going over the top. I must be able to put a show together with the same conditions that WWE have to deal with. We’re not going to throw around absurd ideas like Goldberg vs Undertaker or Sting vs Undertaker for this show. We deal with the stars we’ve got at the moment and use the people that we know for a fact will be able to show up. Therefore, the likes of John Cena and Seth Rollins are ruled out of the equation. We can’t be assuming that certain stars will be able to turn up.

This is merely just a fun way at looking at how we would tackle the event and how we would have planned out WrestleMania. Anyone with “dream cards” of there own should post in the comments. However, here’s how I’m booking it.

 

The Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal

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We might as well keep up this tradition as it is a great way to use the stars that’ll just miss the cut for the big matches. With that being said, there should also be a winner that could actually get a lot out of winning the thing. Cesaro and Big Show never really amounted to much after winning the battle royal but hopefully we’ll pick someone that should be able to use this win to their advantage. I have two names in mind for the winner of this one. The first name is Sheamus, who can build himself right back up with a win in the battle royal. The second name is Samoa Joe, who is actually rumoured to be appearing on the main roster some time after Wrestlemania. However, there is always the possibility of having the NXT star debuting on the main roster in a big way. WWE will want to have an NXT star in the battle royal, so the best way to do it is to feature someone that would genuinely get something out of being in it. Nothing against Hideo Itami, but he was never really able to stand out when he was in the battle royal last year.

Winner: Either Sheamus or Samoa Joe

 

The Wyatt Family (Braun Strowman, Erick Rowan and Luke Harper vs The League Of Nations (Rusev, Alberto Del Rio and Wade Barrett)

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I enjoy six man tag team matches greatly and it’d make sense to give these two stables a much great purpose at WrestleMania. Why can’t these two teams just battle each other? A part of me really didn’t want to reduce Alberto Del Rio to a multi-man match but at least he can stand out as the stand-out of his team. If he takes it to these three giants and fights his ass off, he can get over tremendously. We’ve seen it time after time. If you’re up against the odds and you fight and fight and fight, you can get over big time. Look at Steve Austin at WrestleMania 13. Del Rio would get the hot tag and run wild but in the end, the Wyatts would overwhelm him. Braun Strowman could also choke out Del Rio in the end if you really wanted to get Braun over. At least Del Rio wouldn’t have tapped out.

Winners: The Wyatt Family

 

Kalisto (c) vs Neville vs Sami Zayn for the United States Championship

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Zayn, Neville and Kalisto could put on a tremendous display in a match for the US title. If Sami does get hurt a bit the night before (wrestling Shinesuke Nakamura at NXT TakeOver: Dallas), at least Kalisto and Neville can do some of the heavy lifting during the bulk of the match. Kalisto would be my winner of this match and this could be a very fun Wrestlemania match that would see Kalisto get over. If Sami is too much of an issue, then there’s always Sin Cara.

Winner: Kalisto

 

Dean Ambrose (c) vs AJ Styles for the Intercontinental Championship

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I’ve actually already covered this match before in a past “How I Would Book”, so there’s not much that needs to be said about how this one. This would have been a great way for AJ to break out on his own as a singles star. The stuff they’re doing with Chris Jericho just doesn’t sit right with me and I feel facing Dean Ambrose would be a much better fit for AJ than facing Jericho once again. AJ wins in what would be one corker of a match.

Winner: AJ Styles

 

“The New Day” Big E (c) and Kofi Kingston (c) w/Xaiver Woods vs Enzo Amore and Big Cass for the WWE Tag Team Championship

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The way I see it, WWE Roadblock is WWE’s way of testing how over Enzo and Big Cass can get on a WWE main roster show. It’s all well and good when they get over in NXT but they want to test and see how they do on the main roster and that’s fine. However, I have no doubt that Enzo and Big Cass winning the tag titles would get an incredible pop in Texas. If anyone should beat the New Day for the tag titles, it should probably be these guys.

Winners: Enzo Amore and Big Cass

 

Charlotte (c) vs Sasha Banks vs Becky Lynch for the Divas Championship

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I’m actually very happy with WWE doing this match as it actually makes the whole “divas revolution” angle seem worthwhile. The three women that were brought up from NXT are now fighting for the Divas title at WrestleMania 32. It’s the perfect way for this whole storyline to come full circle. The only winner of this should really be Sasha Banks as she is the most over out of the three women.

Winner: Sasha Banks

 

Chris Jericho vs Dolph Ziggler

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To be perfectly honest, I hadn’t thought of an ideal match for either of these gentlemen. However, it would still be a very decent match to watch. The storyline could revolve around Jericho mocking Ziggler for not living up to his full potential since the last time they feuded. Dolph Ziggler would win this one with Jericho being the heel. Might as well give Ziggler a big WrestleMania win.

Winner: Dolph Ziggler

 

Triple H vs Bray Wyatt

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Of course, you’d have to re-work some of the events of the last few months in order for this match to happen. Unless you were to have Bray Wyatt cost Triple H the title at Roadblock, it’d be difficult to get this match to happen this far into the Road to WrestleMania. The funny thing about this one is that it does tie into the events of the Royal Rumble. At that event, Bray went after Triple H after an intense stare down which saw Triple H eliminate Bray. Bray feuding with Triple H would be an exhilarating feud for him and something different for Triple H to work with. There’s a lot of potential to be had with this one. I would personally put Bray over as it’s about time that Bray gets a big win over a top star.

Winner: Bray Wyatt

 

Undertaker w/Shane McMahon vs Kevin Owens w/Mr McMahon. If Undertaker wins, Shane McMahon wins control. If Kevin Owens wins, Shane will be banned from the WWE forever

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I feel that the idea of Shane McMahon battling the Undertaker for control of WWE is quite bonkers! I do want to involve that stipulation in a match but the idea of Shane fighting himself doesn’t sound very appealing to me. Also, it would make a lot more sense for Undertaker to fight for Shane rather than for Vince. He should be up against a top heel, who’d be given the chance to be involved in a match with huge implications for WWE programming. Enter Kevin Owens. Owens has often mentioned his desire to wrestle the Undertaker at WrestleMania so why not let him do it? Kevin Owens’ motivation to get involved would be a guaranteed WWE World Title shot in the near future. This is not like Money In The Bank. It’d be more like “Gift of the Gods” from Lucha Underground, with Owens having to announce it beforehand. I feel that prize would be enough to entice Owens to fight Vince’s battles.

Winner: Undertaker

 

Brock Lesnar (c) vs Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

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I believe that this is the only way WrestleMania this year should have ended, with Roman Reigns challenging Brock Lesnar once again in a rematch from last year’s fantastic main event. Lesnar vs Reigns II is easy enough promotion for this match and it would be a main event that the fans would more invested in then Triple H vs Reigns. No matter who the winner is, this would be a fantastic way to end the show.

Winner: Either Brock Lesnar or Roman Reigns

 

That’s about it. A lot of the storylines would need tweaking in order to make this work but at the end of the day, I feel that this could be a great way for WWE to prepare itself for the remainder of the year. In my opinion, that should really be the point of WrestleMania.

Have any suggestions for a future How I Would Book? Simply tweet me at either @ArmbarExpress or @TomRobinson5199 on Twitter with your suggestions. Do also check out the rest of the content on my blog. I do a lot of other cool fantasy booking blog posts with my playthroughs of fantasy booking gameExtreme Warfare Revenge. And there’s all sorts of other wrestling content as well. You never know, you might just like what you see!

AJ Styles Vs Chris Jericho II On SmackDown!

 

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AJ Styles was a phenomenal signing for WWE. He was so phenomenal that WWE decided to put AJ on the main roster as soon as he arrived. Think of all the stars that have wrestled on NXT before appearing on the main roster. Kevin Owens, Hideo Itami, Sami Zayn, Samoa Joe and even Jushin Thunder Liger have all appeared on NXT instead of first debuting on the main roster. Imagine that you’ve got a star like AJ in your ranks.

You’ve got a man that was a major part of the development of TNA, which had been the second top wrestling promotion in the world for years. You’ve got a man that was the IWGP Champion just before he left. It’s the same title held by the likes of Brock Lesnar, who is considered a very special attraction for WWE. You’ve got a man with phenomenal skills in the ring and could give you a new legitimate star in your ranks. Less than a month into his career, AJ’s promising career in WWE has already been ruined in the exact same way that so many new stars could have been created. 50/50 booking.

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In case you missed SmackDown!, AJ Styles lost his first WWE match and he did it clean. He lost his big rematch against Chris Jericho to a simple codebreaker. How does this do either man ANY favours? How does it do Chris Jericho any favours? He’s not exactly going to have a big part in the future of WWE. He’s coming towards the end of his career. He should not be beating guys like AJ Styles so cleanly. Wouldn’t it make more sense for Jericho to lose to AJ again and have him keep losing until the end of the feud? Each time Jericho loses, he gets more and more annoyed with himself. It’s a simple feud which will elevate AJ whether he loses the final match or not. It doesn’t do too much damage to Jericho as he still would likely win the final match.

I really don’t understand the logic of having Jericho suddenly being booked as one of the best wrestlers in the company again. Jericho is 45 years old and has not won a championship since 2010. The idea that he is on par with the top stars in the company in 2016 is just absurd. He even lasted 50 minutes in the Royal Rumble match. How bad does that make the rest of the wrestlers look when Jericho is leaving them in the dust?

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I get that Chris Jericho has historically been a top star in WWE but you can’t be booking him so great right now. My idea earlier about having Jericho getting more and more angry at himself for not being able to put AJ away would actually be a great bit of character development for Jericho, as it would be Jericho questioning whether he could still hang with the best any more. You can’t go from having Jericho putting over guys like Fandango to beating AJ Styles in an instant as it just seems unbelievable. You’ve had Jericho putting over younger stars for years, so it’s going to be hard to convince the casual viewer that Jericho is as good as everyone else after not accomplishing a great deal in the last five years.

WWE’s sudden insistence on putting Jericho over as a top star in 2016 is just infuriating to me. It was like the Highlight Reel segment a month ago, when Jericho said that he, Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar were the three favourites to win the Royal Rumble. Again, it makes everyone else look bad.

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I’ve been talking about Jericho for a while but the one that will likely ne most effected by this match is AJ. Now AJ Styles is in the same position as everyone else on the roster. He is beatable after just a few weeks. I’ve seen everyone get beaten eventually. There’s never been a professional wrestler that has never lost a match. That’s just how wrestling works. They beat Goldberg. They beat Brock Lesnar. They even beat the Undertaker at Wrestlemania. However, a new star should always be protected when he/she enters your company. AJ Styles, in particular, should be promoted as one of the best you have to offer. He should be one of the wrestlers that you should be protecting as he’s just arrived in an emphatic way. Now though, he’s been subjected to the same detrimental booking as everyone else on the roster.

WWE’s idea of “50/50 booking”, to make sure that they don’t upset any particular fan bases, is just going to kill any attempts at creating new stars. That will result in the fans only showing a great deal of interest in the likes of Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns and John Cena. Therefore, the fans will only be invested in those characters.

In a time where stars need to be made, there has to be a lot more wrestlers exempt from this booking and AJ Styles is someone that should have been spared this. This was a poor decision by WWE to have him lose to Jericho and to have him lose this early into his WWE career.

2016 Royal Rumble Match Review

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How’s it going everybody? Hope you all are having a great day.

In this post, I will be reviewing last week’s Royal Rumble match. I’m not going to review the entire pay-per-view, even though it was all actually really good. The Last Man Standing match was really good. Alberto Del Rio vs Kalisto was good. The Tag Team title match had a really good finish, with Big E catching one of the Usos with the Big Ending. Charlotte and Becky Lynch was good but was mostly ruined by the finish. I also hated how Becky Lynch really got buried at the end of it, despite having built up this program for the last few months. After Sasha Banks came out to confront Charlotte, Becky was literally just thrown to one side.

However, the biggest aspect of the pay-per-view is the Royal Rumble match. If the Rumble didn’t perform, it doesn’t really matter how great those matches were. It didn’t matter that Seth Rollins, Brock Lesnar and John Cena had one of the best matches of the year, at last year’s Royal Rumble event. Every other aspect of the pay-per-view disappointed, including the Rumble. The pressure was on in 2016 and WWE really had to deliver.

Without further ado, let’s get to it….

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Roman Reigns was obviously the number one entrant. He got thunderous boos as soon as he entered the match. This crowd did not want Roman to go the distance and it was a hard night for Roman, in terms of getting a good reaction from the crowd. Rusev was number two, meaning that the final two of last year’s Rumble would start off the 2016 Royal Rumble. Sadly, it wasn’t until Rusev’s entrance was about to finish when one of the commentators actually mentioned this fact to the viewer.

I’ll actually talk about the commentators slightly. I’m usually very down on Byron Saxton as a commentator on RAW. I never really believed he added a lot to the commentary and he was really not impressive on that show. However, Byron was the MVP of the Rumble in terms of announcing. He certainly was a lot better than Michael Cole and JBL was. Michael Cole was slipping up a number of times during the show, with Byron Saxton being the one to correct him or pick up some things that Cole forgot to mention. Things like the Roman/Rusev fact should be things that Cole should be going on about as soon as Rusev’s music hits. It’s a sense of continuity, which the WWE was really trying to keep up during the Rumble. The fact that Byron Saxton had to be the one to cover for Cole in that department is pretty sad, as Cole is the journalist that should know these facts. It should be Cole, who’s the play-by-play commentator.

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So Roman and Rusev brawled for about a minute. Rusev was eliminated right away by Roman, which would suggest that Rusev is still not in good favour with WWE at the moment! Then again, he was the one that laid out Roman Reigns later, which we’ll get onto. There were reports by Dave Meltzer and even Konnan that Lana had caused a scene in an airport, where she was yelling at Rusev in front of some people. Lana apparently got a lot of heat backstage for obvious reasons, but apparently Rusev got heat too for not defending himself. It seems odd to punish Rusev for something that Lana supposedly did, but both Rusev and Lana have been getting heat for a while since their engagement was reported by TMZ. Taking away the heat and taking into account how badly Rusev’s been booked in comparison to the rest of the League of Nations (minus Wade Barrett, who’s been on and off television), it still would make sense that Rusev would be the worst booked out of the stable in this match. Sucks to be Rusev at the moment in WWE.

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However, it doesn’t suck if you’re a fan of AJ Styles. Number three was AJ, who came to a thunderous pop. I actually don’t think there’s ever been a surprise entrant pop that was as great as this one. The place went nuts for AJ. Obviously, there is AJ’s connections with Orlando and TNA to take into account. However, AJ was just the most over man of the night. Even after AJ got eliminated, people were still going crazy and chanting his name. The entrance music was really cool and is now available on iTunes. I immediately got the song as soon as it was released! It just fit AJ’s look and style.

Bryan Alvarez actually mentioned on the Bryan and Vinny show that a lot of the WWE production crew were snowed in that Sunday, and couldn’t attend the Royal Rumble event. That would make a lot of sense, as the production crew were having a nightmare with this show! When AJ was coming out, they decided that filming AJ’s titantron was not important. It was more important to get a huge close-up of Roman Reigns. This would be fine, if it were not for the titantron saying the words “I am Phenomenal.”

A major part of AJ’s WWE debut was missed by the WWE production crew! It was not the only thing they missed tonight, which we’ll get to later. AJ seemed to fit right in during this match. His style is obviously a lot more quicker than everybody in that match (except Neville maybe) but he looked fine. They did a good job to build up AJ as he lasted a long time and eliminated a number of wrestlers. They could have done a great job in building him up, as obviously AJ could have lasted longer. However, I thought the time they gave him was just fine for AJ to get a feel of how the WWE worked. It’s still wrestling but a WWE environment is like no other. This was a good taster session of AJ.

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Tyler Breeze came out at number four but was eliminated by AJ and Roman after a minute. Tyler did actually look good in the minute that he was in the match. Apparently there’s heat on him backstage too, which would explain the early elimination. However, it would have probably been cool to see him last a little bit longer.

Curtis Axel was the number five entrant. I actually had an idea for Curtis Axel before I started watching this Royal Rumble. You know how Kofi Kingston’s Royal Rumble survival spot has become an annual Royal Rumble thing? Everyone goes into the Rumble thinking “What’s Kofi going to do this year?” and it becomes like the Undertaker’s streak. I thought about Curtis Axel not getting eliminated last year and getting really over because of it. It got me thinking. Why not do an annual spot where Curtis Axel is eliminated but never ACTUALLY eliminated from the Royal Rumble match?

Think about it. Erick Rowan attacked him last year. This year, the Social Outcasts could have dragged Curtis out from under the bottom rope and he would never be seen again in the match. Next year, it could have been Curtis being pulled under the bottom rope and attacked. One year, he would flee and then come back out again! WWE trying to come up with way fors Curtis to lose but avoid actually being eliminated would actually be entertaining. Also, Curtis would never lose any of these matches! You’re actually elevating him as a character as he becomes the guy that never gets eliminated. I would have loved it if they did this…

Sadly, he was eliminated by AJ Styles. I love AJ, but this made me mad. Axelmania is well and truly dead…

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Moving on. Number six was Chris Jericho. I was doubtful that Jericho was going to be in there for long. To me, Jericho didn’t really look to be in that great of shape to be able to pull it off. I don’t want to call out Jericho for being fat or anything, but you’d expect someone like AJ or another rising star to also be putting in a very long shift in the Rumble. I was surprised that he was in there for as long as he was, which was about 50 minutes. It got me wondering because why would they push Jericho that strongly in the Rumble? Was this just something Jericho wanted or is there a big match in place for him at Wrestlemania? I’ll guess we’ll see.

Number seven was Kane. Looking back in hindsight, it’s amazing to think that Kane was in a WWE World Heavyweight Championship feud in October 2015. He was main-eventing RAWs and now he’s just another guy in the Rumble. He eliminated R-Truth later but he wasn’t really there as a dominant figure or anything. Goldust was number eight and ran wild. It’s amazing to see how well Goldust can go in the ring at the age of 46. He didn’t do a lot in the Rumble but he really did hold is own in a match filled with so much talent.

Number nine was Ryback, who was heavily booed. Ryback came in to deliver running knees in the corner to everyone. Everyone noted that CM Punk did the exact same thing as a signature move. However, Ryback looked so much wilder and cooler when he was doing it! It’s kind of like when Brock Lesnar would do high jumping attacks at people during the match. His size adds to the move as it actually makes Ryback look like a guy that will do crazy moves to win matches, including hurling himself at guys in the corner.

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Number ten was Kofi Kingston. His spot this year was when he was knocked to the outside and Big E caught him on his shoulders. Big E galloped around the ring and then Kofi decided to grab a drink of coke while he was on Big E’s shoulders! It was very creative and it was really a move that put over Big E in a weird way. It’s Kofi’s spot but Big E was the one doing the heavy lifting.

I mentioned the WWE production crew earlier missing big moments in the match. They missed another big one with Kofi’s elimination. It didn’t help that the elimination happened while the League of Nations attacked the WWE Champion. However for a few minutes, all the cameras did was focus on the League of Nations attacking Roman Reigns. They made brief shots to Luke Harper and Stardust coming into the match, but no footage of the match itself was actually shown during this period. Stardust and Titus O’Neil fighting during the match is something you’d believe would have some value to WWE storylines as they’ve been feuding. Instead, it was more important to see the Leauge of Nations slowly beat up Roman Reigns. It also didn’t help matters when all the commentators could talk about was Roman Reigns as well! I understand that he was the WWE Champion but the match itself is very important!

Titus O’Neil was number eleven and eliminated Goldust. I was kind of annoyed that the commentators couldn’t help but talk about all the charity work that Titus was doing. That’s all well and good but what does that have to do with Titus entering the Royal Rumble match? He’s entering a competitive environment and it’s not good for Titus when he is being portrayed as the charity man of WWE. It’s almost as if that’s becoming his new gimmick which doesn’t help Titus. Titus is a big strong guy but it’s portrayed as if charity is much more important to Titus than wrestling. That’s a huge problem for him.

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R-Truth came out at number twelve. R-Truth had a very funny spot where he got a ladder from underneath the ring, which just happened to be there. R-Truth set up the ladder, climbed it and went to grab a WWE Championship which wasn’t there. This gimmick where R-Truth is constantly getting confused is pretty darn awesome. If there’s anyone on the main roster that could pull this off, it would be R-Truth! Kane pulled R-Truth off the ladder, threw him out, took down the ladder and threw it to the outside. This monster eliminated R-Truth in the safest way possible and managed to miss R-Truth when throwing out the ladder. That made me laugh more than anything from this segment. The amount of care Kane took to eliminate R-Truth despite being a monster!

Stardust and Luke Harper both came out as mentioned earlier. Also, as mentioned earlier, the League of Nations came out to beat up Roman Reigns. Mr McMahon’s plan was for the League of Nations to pull Roman UNDER the bottom rope, beat him up and then put him through the announce table. This would hurt Roman so much that he wouldn’t be able to continue the match.

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Here’s the thing. Mr McMahon did not want Roman Reigns to win the WWE World title. If that was the case, why didn’t he just have the League of Nations throw Roman OVER the top rope? Mr McMahon is well aware that this match is no disqualification (as he created the match) so why didn’t he just take advantage of the rules and have them dump out Roman? McMahon also knows from experience that wrestlers that are beaten up in the Royal Rumble match can come back out later when they are fresher. Why’s that? Because in the 1999 Royal Rumble match (which Mr McMahon won), he tried the exact same plan with Stone Cold Steve Austin. What happened? Austin came back out and ALMOST thwarted his plans!

As this was going on, Jericho eliminated Kofi when he dropkicked him off Big E’s shoulders. That was another spot that the production crew missed. Number fifteen was the Big Show, who was booed quite a bit. Big Show eliminated Titus and Ryback. Last year, I complained that Big Show was eliminating all the younger talent. In this match, he did it again! To be fair, this was actually rectified when a younger man actually eliminated Big Show from the Rumble. However, it’s just funny how Ryback and Titus were both just quickly eliminated. Especially Ryback, who had been kicking Big Show’s arse throughout the summer of last year!

Number sixteen was Neville. He didn’t really do a lot but it was very hard to considering all the guys he was in there with at the time. Braun Strowman was number seventeen. WWE were really trying so hard to put Braun over during this Rumble with the Wyatt Family. They were mostly just trying to get over Braun, but the group actually eliminated a lot of men in this Rumble match. Braun eliminated Kane and Big Show which I was OK with as the younger man actually eliminated the old veterans. This was fine as this would put Braun over as the new top giant in the company. I was OK with this.

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Number eighteen was Kevin Owens, who was wobbling down to the ring after being in the Last Man Standing match earlier. He came in and eliminated AJ Styles. This caused huge uproar from the crowd! To be fair, it would have been much worse if someone like Braun Strowman eliminated AJ. At least Kevin Owens is someone the fans respect enough to accept as being the one to eliminated AJ.

There’s reports that AJ is actually expected to work a program with Kevin Owens, with this being the reason why Kevin eliminated AJ. I think this would be a good program but check out my own idea for what to do with AJ going into Wrestlemania at this link. I have a different idea for AJ which actually relates to the next entrant…

Dean Ambrose was number nineteen. He targeted Kevin right away. He was selling a lot less than Kevin Owens was. Number twenty was Sami Zayn, which got a big reaction. I guess Sami did make a lot of sense as the NXT star to go into the Royal Rumble. He’s someone that the main roster audience are familiar with (as he’s been on RAW before) and it actually tied into the angle they did on a house show, where Sami attacked Kevin. Sami eliminated Kevin, which was his payback for Kevin taking him out in May 2015. Erick Rowan was number 21. This was the moment where the Wyatt Family just took over. They dumped out Neville, Sami Zayn and Stardust. Neville actually took a really hard bump on the apron, when Luke Harper clotheslined him out of the match. It was similar to the Snitsky/Paul London spot from the 2005 Royal Rumble and there were reports that Vince was very upset with London for taking that bump. Whether Neville will get heat remains to be seen. He was in the United States Championship match against Kalisto on SmackDown!, so I guess nothing was fought of it.

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Mark Henry was number 22 and he eliminated right away by the Wyatt Family. Number 23 was Brock Lesnar, who DOMINATED the match. He suplexed everyone in the ring except Braun Strowman I think. He eliminated the 24th entrant Jack Swagger. For the record, the combined time in the match for Swagger and Henry was 45 seconds. These were also the men that won the kick-off show match to earn a spot in the Rumble. If you’re going to do a match like this, you should at least try to make it seem that the qualifying match was important. I believe these two were the only men in the match that had to win a qualifying match to get into the Rumble. At least give them some credit by having them last at least a few minutes each. Why did they get eliminated right way?

Brock was dominating as mentioned earlier. He eliminated Rowan from the Wyatt Family first. There was a spot with Brock and Braun where Brock clotheslined Braun, but Braun didn’t go down. The whole gimmick on television is for Braun to never get knocked down so I guess Braun just tried to keep that gimmick up. Apparently, nobody told Brock Lesnar! After Braun didn’t go down for the first clothesline, Brock clobbered Braun with a second one and Braun went crashing down to the mat. Brock battered this poor guy.

Maybe this was actually the plan and WWE’s idea was for Braun to take a big beating from Lesnar in order to help him sell moves in the future. Braun’s selling is not that great and he’ll eventually lose his invincibility when he loses clean for the first time. When that happens, Braun’s got to know how to sell. The idea is that if you actually get beat up in the ring, that’ll help you understand how a certain spot should be sold. For example, some wrestlers are legitimately kicked in the gut or punched during their early days of wrestling school to get a feel of how to sell it. This might have been why Brock gave Braun such a beating… or Brock just did what he wanted anyway and just beat up Braun!

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Number 25 was the Miz, who simply went over to the announce table and did commentary. Miz’s plan was to wait for the right moment so he could go in and eliminate someone. Number 26 was Alberto Del Rio, who didn’t really accomplish much. It was kind of odd that Kalisto was not involved in the Royal Rumble match yet the loser of the earlier US Championship match was! There was actually reports that Del Rio injured his back during the Royal Rumble event, which means that more wrestlers are on WWE’s injury list. The thing that bothers me is that WWE have all of these wrestlers injured and yet they still continue to double book wrestlers during television shows, further increasing the risk of injuries. Alberto Del Rio was never going to win the Royal Rumble so wouldn’t it have made sense to put someone in there that HADN’T competed earlier on in the night?

Brock eliminated Braun and Luke Harper when Bray Wyatt came out at number 27. On SLTD Wrestling, I predicted that Brock would be eliminated by the man that would face him at Wrestlemania. It was clear that his Wrestlemania was set up by his elimination but the thing is, Bray didn’t even eliminate Lesnar! What happened was that Bray set the Wyatt Family on Brock but Brock fought them off. Bray took advantage and hit Sister Abigail. He then told the Wyatt Family members to eliminate Lesnar for him! How on earth could anyone take Wyatt seriously when he wasn’t even the one that eliminated Brock? He was just stood there directing traffic. Unless the Wyatt Family ends up being a big part of the build for Bray vs Brock, I don’t see why Bray couldn’t have just thrown Lesnar out himself.

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I actually want to quickly talk about Braun Strowman again. Braun ended being eliminated by Brock during the Royal Rumble. As mentioned earlier though, Brock had BATTERED Braun during the match. The idea that Braun is supposed to go from being decimated by Brock to fighting THE UNDERTAKER at Wrestlemania (as reported by some wrestling websites) is just laughable. This’ll be an easy match for Undertaker to wrestle but how could Braun seem like a legitimate threat to Undertaker after this performance?

Dolph Ziggler came out at number 28. This was a horrible night in the Royal Rumble for Dolph Ziggler. There were three moments during this matches where Ziggler was buried to an incredible degree. The first one was when The Miz’s plan was finally put into motion. As Ziggler came in, Miz took advantage and successfully hit Ziggler with the Skull Crushing Finale. Usually, the heel’s sneaky attack should backfire on him as it would be what he’d get for breaking the rules. Not here! Miz got away with his crime and was successful in taking out Dolph Ziggler!

Number 29 was Sheamus. This was where Roman Reigns came back out to clear house. He eliminated Miz and Del Rio. He ran wild for a bit until number thirty came out. Number thirty was revealed to be Triple H.

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Against my better judgement, I convinced myself that WWE weren’t planning to have Triple H to come out as the 30th entrant in the Royal Rumble match. I told myself that the WWE couldn’t possibly be going with this, as it would have been WAY too obvious. In the end, that’s what they did. The funny thing about it is the fact that the Orlando crowd didn’t seem to care.

They were ecstatic to see Triple H. A big part of that was to do with it meaning that Roman Reigns was probably not going to win. Another part though was the fact that NXT is based in Orlando. Of course, NXT is Triple H’s big project. Therefore, it made so much sense that Triple H would be cheered as heavily as he was. It was an ingenious way for WWE to put Triple H over! Even though the storyline didn’t make sense and that we’d see Triple H win the title at 46 years old, this crowd didn’t care.

Triple H and Roman Reigns did this huge stare down. Remember, Roman Reigns beat up Triple H at TLC. This was another good use of continuity by the writers. It did annoy me that Byron was the only that considered the possibility of a conspiracy by the Authority, which is a huge plot-point to overlook. It was not like the commentators were in disgust over the Authority’s abuse of power. Michael Cole and JBL were just hyping up this big return from Triple H. I understand that the commentators were excited for Triple H coming out but think about the storyline just a little.

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This was the second time during the Rumble match where Ziggler was buried. Triple H and Roman did this face-off and during the face-off, Ziggler tried to jump Triple H. Triple H just simply pedigreed Ziggler and continued to stare down Roman! This was the funniest moment of the entire match! I felt bad for Ziggler but I just laughed so hard at how Triple H laid out Ziggler with such ease and just continued to do this intense showdown with Roman.

The third and final moment where Ziggler was buried was when he was trying to eliminate Triple H. Ziggler hit the super kick, which has started to become a finisher for Ziggler. This was also the same super kick that won Triple H’s best friend Shawn Michaels so many big matches. Ziggler hit the super kick and Triple H wobbled on the apron. Ziggler tried again and Triple H just threw Ziggler out of the match. Triple H no-sold Ziggler’s finisher and just threw him over the top rope! The announcers were talking about all the great last man standing matches in the Royal Rumble earlier on in the show. Keep in mind that the first last man standing match was between Triple H and Shawn Michaels in 2004, and the finish to that match was Shawn Michaels super-kicking Hunter which lead to neither man answering the count of ten. However, Triple H just flat out no-sold this super kick from Ziggler!

There was a moment with Triple H and Bray Wyatt, where it seemed like an alliance would be formed. Wyatt instead just attacked Triple H. This would prove to be Wyatt’s undoing as HE was eventually eliminated by an alliance between Triple H and Sheamus. Dean Ambrose eliminated Chris Jericho in ANOTHER strange use of continuity. At Night Of Champions, there was a moment where Jericho and Dean had an argument following their six man tag team match. Jericho nudged Dean out of the way and this was Dean’s revenge.

 

The final four was Sheamus, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Triple H. Roman Reigns eliminated Sheamus but was then eliminated by Triple H to a HUGE reaction. This lead to a final two between Triple H and Dean Ambrose. It was a good call to have Dean Ambrose in the final two instead of Roman. If Roman was eliminated last by Triple H, the fans would have ended the night by emphatically cheering the heel authority figure. With this finish, they can still have the heel heat on Triple H as he was going up against Dean Ambrose. That night, everyone really wanted Dean to win. This got Dean over as a top babyface and Triple H was booed at the end. It got the right reaction, although there were cheers for Triple H at the end of the night too.

There was one report from Inquisitr that suggested that the WWE changed their mind on the finish in the middle of the match. The winner had already been decided but it’s suggested that Roman Reigns was attacked by the League of Nations so Vince, Roman and the rest of the powers-that-be would discuss a new finish to the match. I don’t believe that they would change the finish off the match DURING the match itself. It seems like a bit of a stretch. I thought Roman being taken out earlier on in the match was just to rest him for the finish. I don’t think it was because WWE changed their minds.

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Triple H eliminated Dean to win the Royal Rumble and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. In the weeks leading up to this event, I was hugely against Triple H winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Coming out of the event, I still believe it was the wrong decision.

Let me just ask you guys a few questions:

  • Out of Brock Lesnar and Triple H, who is the better worker?
  • Out of Brock Lesnar and Triple H, who is the bigger star in mainstream media?
  • Out of Brock Lesnar and Triple H, who is the bigger draw in terms of pay-per-view buys?
  • Out of Brock Lesnar and Triple H, who has been the most over act in the last twelve months?

The answer to all of these answers is Brock Lesnar. So why was Triple H chosen to win the Royal Rumble over Brock Lesnar? Vince McMahon.

This is NOT an accusation of nepotism. However, Vince has it in his head that they needed to put Roman over by having him beat Triple H at Wrestlemania. That’s fine. I don’t mind the “passing of the torch” booking EXCEPT when the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is on the line.

When Hulk Hogan lost the WWF Championship to the Ultimate Warrior, Hogan was on top of the world. When he lost the belt to Warrior, Warrior came off looking as the new legitimate top star of the company because he had beaten the very best.

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When Roman Reigns inevitably wins the WWE World Heavyweight Championship from Triple H, he’ll have beaten a 46 year old Authority figure to do it. There might have been plans for Roman Reigns to beat John Cena at Wrestlemania but there’s a huge difference between John Cena and Triple H. John Cena has been on top of the WWE for a decade as an active wrestler. Triple H had not been champion since 2009 until right now. He is NOT in the prime of his life as a wrestler. So even when he’s NOT in the prime of his life, he’s still winning Rumbles in 2016. That’s the bottom line. How bad does that make everyone else on the roster look?

I laughed about Triple H defeating Dolph Ziggler so easily earlier. The main reason why I laughed is because Triple H should not be defeating Dolph Ziggler so easily. He eliminated Ziggler, Wyatt, Reigns and Ambrose who are among WWE’s elite stars in 2016. Again, these guys all looked so insignificant compared to Triple H.

HOWEVER, despite what I thought about the finish… the show was great. WWE had a plan and they stuck with it. I admire them for that, despite the leaks of what was going to happen. They stuck to their guns and the crowd loved it in the end. That alone should tell you just how good a Rumble this was. WWE gave it their all with this event as a whole. This match was just put together so well that it did feel like a very special Rumble. This was not the greatest Rumble of all time but this was a pretty great Rumble as a whole. WWE really did give the fans a great show and they should be proud of the show they put on.

How I Would Book… AJ Styles’ Road To Wrestlemania 32

After years of speculation, the “Phenomenal One” AJ Styles has signed a WWE contract and is now a part of the WWE universe. After more than a decade as the face of TNA and years of experience in Japan, we finally get to see AJ Styles throw down in the WWE. However, with his arrival comes many questions. This is someone that has made a name for himself in the independent scene, who is now in unfamiliar territory. This was one of the worries Vince Russo had, when he heard AJ was starting up in WWE. How do you treat him? Well, we’ll see if we can make things comfortable for the newcomer. Here’s How I Would Book… AJ Styles’ Road To Wrestlemania 32.

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To say that this is AJ’s first rodeo with WWE would actually be untrue. AJ was actually in the developmental territory for the WWF as he was starting out in wrestling. His initial run is highlighted by a WWF Metal appearance, when he wrestled the Hurricane. Now though, he enters the company as an established wrestling superstar. His reaction at the 2016 Royal Rumble tells you just how much of a hot commodity he is. People want to see AJ Styles and WWE have pulled quite a coup with the signature of AJ Styles.

Signing these top stars is all well in good, but it means nothing he is not booked accordingly. AJ’s actually coming in during an exciting period for the company. He’s too big enough star to be lost in the shuffle for Wrestlemania period. In fact, he helps WWE tackle their issue of having the stars at their disposal. AJ will probably be getting a big match at Wrestlemania.

However, which match is right for AJ? Which match will firmly establish him as a future main-eventer in the company. Well, let’s take a look at the options.

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As hinted by the elimination of AJ at the Royal Rumble and based off reports from Wrestling Observer, it appears that WWE has some kind of plan with AJ and Kevin Owens. That would actually be a good feud going into Wrestlemania for Kevin, after losing his feud to Dean Ambrose. Going up against AJ, who has already got instant overness, will benefit Kevin and maintain his own overness. It makes sure that he doesn’t get lost in the shuffle and has direction, keeping his momentum up at the same time. However, is this the best thing for AJ too? Well, let’s take a look at the other options.

On Monday Night RAW, AJ beat Chris Jericho. This was followed by a resistant handshake by Jericho, who seemed confident that he was going to beat AJ. If this were to lead to a Wrestlemania match, I think this would be a great Wrestlemania debut match for AJ to really shine. Their match on RAW was pretty good and I think it’s just a matter of getting used to each other. Since they’ve already competed on television, there’s no harm in putting it on during the house shows leading into their big match. Then again it would take away from their big Wrestlemania match, if they fought several times before that. Surely AJ’s big Wrestlemania match should be a special one right?

When looking at the active roster at the moment, it would seem that our options for AJ are limited in terms of true star power. However, there are other mouth-watering prospects for AJ at Wrestlemania. Wouldn’t it be truly fantastic to see a triple threat match with fellow high-flyers Kalisto and Neville? You could put the United States Championship on the line if you wanted, but it’s really debatable about if AJ’s first title win should be the US Championship. Alternatively, he could challenge the former US Champion Alberto Del Rio. That would be an unique mix of styles… no pun intended. Dolph Ziggler could be a great opponent for him, as Ziggler would be capable of keeping up with the speed of AJ. Sometimes, Dolph has a tendency of working too quick for a lot of wrestlers. Thankfully, AJ has worked in environments that features a lot of fast-paced action and is very quick himself… even at 38 years old.

When looking at all of those options, it’s a tough call which ever way you slice it. However, I believe the right man to face AJ… is Dean Ambrose.

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This is the perfect way for AJ’s status as an upper midcard/main eventer to be cemented early on. Dean’s just coming off being in the final two of the Royal Rumble and has a lot of momentum at the moment. My scenario would have AJ challenge Dean for the Intercontinental Championship at Wrestlemania… and win the belt.

Here’s what’ll happen.

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Dean’s match at Fastlane is already set. He will face Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar in a triple threat match with the winner going up against Triple H for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania. He’s taken care off until then. For AJ, it’s a lot more tricky.

AJ Styles’ only just debuted, so no major feud is already in place. This interests me. We’ve got a great opportunity to throw AJ in with a number of upper midcarders right off the bat. My idea would be for Kevin Owens to start off Monday Night RAW, complaining that he is not in the picture for any championship. He demands a shot at something when Alberto Del Rio comes out. He does the same and demands a rematch for the US Championship. Chris Jericho comes out and throws his name into the hat for a title shot. This results in Stephanie McMahon making two matches for that episode of RAW, claiming that she’ll be watching. It’s Chris Jericho vs Kevin Owens and Alberto Del Rio… vs AJ Styles.

Owens and Jericho fight to a double DQ and AJ beats Del Rio. This leads to Stephanie claiming that she’ll need one more match to decide who is truly worthy of an opportunity. Jericho, Del Rio and Owens are booked in a triple threat match, which is won by Owens. Stephanie decides to give all these men an opportunity to earn a title match of their choosing at Wrestlemania (except the WWE World Heavyweight Championship of course). If the winner selects the Intercontinental Championship, he will challenge for the title on the night after Wrestlemania if Dean wins at Fastlane. I’m pretty sure that covers that aspect of the storyline. We want to make Stephanie seem that she’s got everything figured out. If Dean ends up winning, she’s got a back-up plan. Whether’s it’s stripping Dean off the title after Fastlane or scheduling the title match for RAW, we want to keep the Intercontinental title in the mix.

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At Fastlane, it’ll be a fatal four way match. It’ll be Chris Jericho vs Alberto Del Rio vs Kevin Owens… vs AJ Styles. At Fastlane, AJ picks up the win. On RAW, we get an all-champions tag team match. It’s United States Champion Kalisto and Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose vs the WWE Tag Team Champions the New Day. The New Day cause a DQ and do a three-on-two beatdown, when AJ comes down to the ring to even things up. When the New Day flee, AJ decks Dean with the Pele. He holds up the Intercontinental Championship and declares that he will challenge for that title.

In the weeks leading up to the event, AJ talks about how he’s no rookie when it comes to professional wrestling. He’s been wrestling for nearly two decades and has been successful everywhere he’s been. He’s says WWE will be no different. AJ talks about hearing “stories” and “myths” of how those that love professional wrestling are treated like dirt in WWE. AJ says that he doesn’t care about those stories and the “backstage politics” won’t stop him from being the best in the world. He vows to win the Intercontinental Championship and surpass the title reigns of every other great that’s ever held the belt.

It’s not a heel turn but it’s AJ showing ambition. AJ’s letting off some of the cockiness and arrogance in him without becoming a full-blown heel. AJ will also NOT hit the Styles Clash on anyone during this road to Wrestlemania. He can win matches by heel locks or corkscrew splashes, but he’ll never win with the Styles Clash. He’ll never use it. The anticipation builds to Wrestlemania, where AJ and Dean meet. The people are starting to think “will this be the day he hits it?”

NOTE: On this week’s edition of SmackDown!, AJ Styles actually did hit the Styles Clash on Curtis Axel. This does annoy me because you had a great opportunity to really put over the move. It should be a move which you should build anticipation for, like when Hideo Itami kept teasing the GTS on NXT. Make the fans wait and wait. Make them wonder whether WWE are not allowing AJ actually hit the move because of how dangerous it can be if something goes wrong. WWE spent the entire Royal Rumble having AJ try to hit the Styles Clash, only to be stopped by someone in the match. Why not continue that until at least Wrestlemania? Why throw it away for an episode of SmackDown!, which does not have an audience like RAW or Wrestlemania? 

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If we’re lucky, these two are given 20 minutes to wrestle on that show. AJ and Dean give each other anything but they both keep kicking out. AJ goes for the Pele on Dean but Dean moves out of the way. AJ ends up hitting the ref somehow. Dean hits Dirty Deeds on AJ but the ref is down. As Dean wakes up the ref, AJ low blows Dean. The ref is still not up and Dean gets back up slightly from the low blow. AJ goes to the outside, picks up the title and hits Dean with it. The referee finally wakes up and makes the count but Dean kicks out. AJ brings up Dean and yells in his face, which leads to Dean spitting at AJ. AJ gets mad and finally hits the Styles Clash to pick up the win and win the championship.

That is how I’d do it. I feel the Intercontinental Championship is the right belt for AJ to have and I feel he should have it sooner rather than later. After he’s done with Dean, it actually sets up a nice little feud with one of NXT’s top stars. Someone that is reportedly on his way to the main roster soon. That man… is Samoa Joe.

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That about does it for this edition of “How I Would Book.” I’m pretty sure a lot of people would have wanted somebody other Dean. A lot of people probably want AJ to go up against a true star like Brock Lesnar or Triple H. Others might want to have AJ go up against someone like Daniel Bryan or Kevin Owens. I’m sure there’s TNA fans that would want to see AJ going up against a debuting Samoa Joe AT Wrestlemania. I’m positive that NJPW fans will want to see AJ in some incarnation of the Bullet Club. However, I feel this is the right way to throw AJ into WWE as a serious player. Dean Ambrose is currently a main-eventer in WWE, which makes the timing perfect for AJ and Dean to tear the house down in Dallas. Whether WWE does it my way or a different way, I just hope that the road to Wrestlemania for AJ Styles is a phenomenal one.

Have any suggestions for a How I Would Book? Simply tweet me at either @ArmbarExpress or @TomRobinson5199 on Twitter with your suggestions. Do also check out the rest of the content on my blog. I do a lot of other cool fantasy booking blog posts with my playthroughs of fantasy booking game Extreme Warfare Revenge. And there’s all sorts of other wrestling content as well. You never know, you might just like what you see!

Why Reports Of NJPW Signings Will Help WWE

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Reports of the signings of New Japan Pro Wrestling stars AJ Styles, Shinesuke Nakamura, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson really did shock the wrestling world. Despite the WWE’s best attempts at keeping the signings a secret, the news was eventually broken. Plans were reportedly in place for the likes of AJ Styles to actually compete in the 2016 Royal Rumble match. However, I fear that those plans may now be changed, considering that the cat is now out of the bag. WWE may want to go out of their way to shock us but I say continue with Plan A.

WWE’s been very short on long-term planning in the last few years, with the likes of the Undertaker’s streak ending being decided four hours before the event. In some cases I totally disagree with it, but in some cases it’s not always a bad thing. With the likes of Seth Rollins and John Cena suffering long term injuries, you can’t really afford to make long term plans if things go wrong.

Changing plans because of injuries is fine, as these things are just something you can’t prepare for. Changing plans because storylines were leaked however aren’t the appropriate measures to take. It’s certainly not appropriate to go out of your way to swerve the audience, when you’ve got something great in place for them already. Whether the news of AJ Styles came out or not, him entering the Royal Rumble would have gotten an incredible pop. If anything, I would argue that it would actually help the pop for AJ if the news had gotten out.

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I want to just state before I go on that wrestling fans are not idiots. A lot of them have the internet and a lot of them are well aware about other wrestling promotions. It’s possible that AJ would get a strong reaction if he showed up unannounced but I’m highly doubtful that it would get an extremely big reaction without the news. The Royal Rumble is one of the WWE’s biggest events. There could be a lot of casual viewers tuning into the Royal Rumble and I’m sure I’m right when I say that these viewers would have no idea who AJ Styles is.

Without that leak, there was always going to be a portion of the crowd that is sat there silently thinking “Who is AJ Styles?” If AJ wasn’t announced beforehand, those fans wouldn’t have had a clue. With the news though, it actually aids WWE in their bid to build anticipation for the likes of Styles, Nakamura, Gallows and Anderson. Those casual fans now have the time to do a bit of digging about who these people are. That builds anticipation a lot more than if WWE would have tried to make this a surprise.

 

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I also mean no disrespect when I say that AJ Styles is no Sting. When Sting signed for WWE, the WWE already had the WCW content on the WWE Network and other means for their younger WWE fans to find out just who he is. It’s not like WWE can just grab some TNA footage of AJ and shot it on the network. WWE have hardly ever hinted or mentioned TNA in any form of media, and it’s not like they’re willing to go out of their way to discuss wrestlers that aren’t even with the company.

That’s not on WWE as that’s not their job. Their job is to promote the talent that they’ve got. To say that they’ve completely neglected other wrestling companies would be an out-right lie. They’ve worked with other wrestling promotions in the past and have mentioned independent wrestlers like AJ and Samoa Joe in articles about Ring of Honor before they signed. The point is, you can’t expect casual and young wrestling fans to automatically figure out who these men are before they enter the WWE ring for the first time. That’s what vignettes are for. That’s what WWE.com is for. That’s what WWE games are for. Sting was announced for WWE 2K15 a few months before he debuted on WWE television.

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Wrestling fans must be aware that WWE are trying to appeal to the majority of THEIR fan base. In order to make these fans aware about who these men are, the leaks have played to their advantage. They can know take control of the narrative and build anticipation for the eventual arrival of these men. What have they been having Finn Balor and John Cena do on Twitter and Instagram? They posted a number of Bullet Club/AJ Styles related messages which get people excited. Finn had an interview with WWE.com, talking about the rumours. The hardcore wrestling fans, that know who the Bullet Club is, will go nuts. The casual wrestling fans, that don’t know who they are, can find out and get excited. It works so well for WWE.

If they were to change their plans just because word got out about their arrival, that would be detrimental. Some times, it works for the best if we know ahead of time that something’s going to happen. If WWE keep building up and building up these signings only for nothing to happen at the Royal Rumble, the fans that have gotten so excited are going to feel let down.

It was like at Extreme Rules 2012, when Kharma was supposed to come back and win the Divas title. Word got out and they decided against it. They went with the returning Layla to come back and win the title, and the crowd just didn’t care in the slightest. Remember when Matt Hardy turned on Jeff Hardy in 2009 and revealed himself as the mastermind behind his attacks from the last few months? Originally, the plan was for the returning Christian to reveal himself as the mastermind. When word got out what WWE were planning to do, WWE changed their minds.

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WWE going out of their way to shock us sometimes isn’t the best way to go, especially if you don’t have a good enough back-up plan. I enjoy unpredictability as much as the next guy but I’d prefer the best storyline WWE can give me. If they’ve got a plan for AJ, Shinsuke, Doc and Karl, I would much rather they stick with it. I want a storyline that truly is too sweet.

SPOILER ALERT – Title Change To Take Place On SmackDown!

NOTE: The following post features major spoilers from this week’s episode of SmackDown! If you do not wish to be spoiled, click away now.

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When I heard that Kalisto had beaten Alberto Del Rio for the United States Championship on RAW, I was all for it. I’ve talked in the past about how Kalisto can become a top star in WWE if pushed right and this was the biggest win of his career. Not even a year into his time on the main roster and he’s already a champion. Not even a year into his time on the main roster and he’s already won a title that was held by John Cena only a few months ago. This was a huge moment for Kalisto and I thought this was the start of something special. A day later though, it seems that this optimism has all been wasted.

What happened on the Tuesday tapings of SmackDown? How did WWE follow up on Kalisto’s big win? Well I can reveal that what happened was that Alberto Del Rio won back the United States Championship in a rematch. That moment on Monday Night RAW and all of that momentum built by Kalisto beforehand seemingly halted as his moment of glory lasted a grand total of 24 hours.

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I was actually planning an article for Kalisto after finding out he won the US title and this was going to be a pretty positive article until I found out what happened on SmackDown! One of the points I was going to make is that WWE should have been careful about when they were to have Kalisto drop the title. It had to be against the right person and he should have something to do afterwards that made him still relevant in the company.

What WWE did was have the title reign last ONE day (three if you’re starting the reign from the date the title change airs) and it was to the same guy that he had beaten before. Therefore, it makes Kalisto look like a fluke champion. What does that do for Kalisto going forward, unless he wins it back at the Royal Rumble?

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Even if the title does change hands again, that’d still be detrimental to the prestige of the title. The US title has been a title that’s rarely been hot-shotted really since Santino Marrella won the belt back in early 2012. He had a surprisingly long title reign. Cesaro had a long title reign. Dean Ambrose had a REALLY long title reign. Sheamus had a long title reign. Rusev had a long title reign. John Cena had a long title reign. That’s what made it stand out as a belt.

Since John Cena dropped the belt to Seth Rollins at Summerslam though, each title reign is making the belt seem less prestigious. OK, I understand that the US title change at Summerslam was really done to give Seth a strong bragging right and really make him seem like the top guy in the company. I understand that John Cena had to win it back in order to continue with his John Cena US Open Challenge to keep elevating the title. I understand the decision to have Cena drop the belt at Hell in a Cell as he was getting time off and what’s more, they put it on the right guy in Del Rio.

With these last two title changes, now we’re back to the title meaning less and less with every title change. Alberto Del Rio is nowhere near as over as he was when he first won the title. Kalisto himself is not even an established star yet. He could have been… but only if you had made his first title reign mean something.

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That first title reign is so important because it has to have mean for those that hold it. You could even claim that Christian’s two day World Heavyweight Championship reign had meaning as it was the catalyst of the biggest program of his life. That gives a character some value. What does Kalisto’s day long title reign accomplish?

It’s not like Kalisto is a 18 year long veteran that’s just won his first world title. This is an exciting new luchador that’s burst onto the scene big time and won his FIRST title in the company (not including his NXT Tag Title run). All the title loss does is make Kalisto out to be a one hit wonder. Christian will not go down as a one-hit wonder as he has a substantial career to his name. Kalisto doesn’t have that.

I feel that WWE’s thinking with these title changes was to make the TV viewers believe that anything can happen. After all, Roman Reigns winning the WWE World title on RAW a few weeks ago pulled one of the best RAW viewership numbers in the year. I would be OK with it if they didn’t do the two title changes in the same week. This is like when the WCW World title would change hands every week in 2000 leaving the viewers confused about who the top guy is.

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If anything, these tactics can prove to be detrimental for the TV ratings. The WCW ratings were at their worst when they were doing that. The viewership for this week’s RAW actually went down from last week, which tells you that the idea of frequent title changes didn’t really do much for them. Maybe the SmackDown! numbers will be up though as WWE have already announced the title change on WWE.com and more people might tune in to see it.

I think WWE will need to have a plan in place to justify these title changes. If not, then the future doesn’t look great for Kalisto.